Carambola Community Music

Last fall, Maria McCullough and Yahví Pichardo packed up a trailer full of musical instruments and journeyed from Chicago to El Paso to pursue their dream of starting a community music school near the U.S.-Mexico border. In October 2015, they founded Carambola Community Music, the region’s only space dedicated to cross-generational education in Mexican folk music, song, dance and visual art. Maria, Yahví and their staff offer bilingual classes and host community events for people of all ages at their location in downtown El Paso.

I was honored when Maria and Yahví asked me to develop a visual identity for Carambola. They are a powerful team who bring passion, dedication, love —and lots of hugs— to everything they do. I am so excited to share with you the branding for Carambola Community Music.


My process with Carambola began with a series of questions and conversations about Maria and Yahví’s vision. As they shared with me their intentions and aspirations as well as their specific business goals, we all deepened our understanding of what Carambola represents. Through our work together, they became more clear on their mission and found words to communicate their ideas about the new community.

Carambola Community Music celebrates people of all ages and walks of life creating, learning, and experiencing together. We are dedicated to preserving and growing the living tradition of Mexican folk music, song, dance, and visual art along the US/Mexico border. As we explore these art forms, we discover the intertwined roots of Mexican and American cultures.

CCM-5As a designer, I wanted to give them a beautiful logo to support their vision. And I also felt it was important that they, as a small but growing business, have the tools to maintain the brand on their own. That’s why the extended brand elements — color, typefaces, wordmark — are key to this identity.

The logo, dubbed the Circle of Joy, is designed to overlay photos, making it a living entity that interacts with its background or setting. What’s behind the logo becomes part of the logo. In this way, the logo embodies Carambola’s understanding of the fluidity of borders and music as a living tradition.


This circle of joy is a physical emblem of our commitment to the region and our community’s collective dreams and visions. As we plant seeds within our borderland, we are sharing and growing our roots together.

The circle represents a desire to connect, find safety in community and be part of a whole. The varied colors represent our varied life experiences.  The colors remind us of our Earth; the coolness of water and the fire of the sun.

The fiddle and the guitar represent our founders Maria and Yahví. They brought these beloved instruments with them across the country to share and continue learning.

In El Paso, we are separated from Mexico by a man-made border, but we remain connected by our land, our spirits and through the creative expressions we share.


To learn more about Carambola, visit, or follow them on facebook, twitter or instagram.